Becoming a governor

Being a Newham School Governor

School governors are people like you. Your contribution can make a difference to the future of children and young people in our schools.

Governing boards are responsible for making important decisions that enable schools to improve and develop. Governing boards work closely with their head teachers, who are responsible for the day to day management of their schools.

What qualities do I need?

Commitment and common sense are the important qualities that governors bring to their schools - you do not have to have formal qualifications or experience in education, finance or management, although these skills will always be welcome.

To be an effective governor you need to:

  • Have an interest in education, schools and young people;
  • Be able to listen to other people's views, to discuss them and then to form your own judgements;
  • Be willing to support the decisions taken by the whole governing board;
  • Have time to play your full part in the work of the governing board;
  • Be willing to learn.

If you have any of these qualities, you will almost certainly enjoy being a school governor.

Governors are drawn from across the whole community. They are people with an interest in education from all walks of life who simply want to make a contribution.

What do governors do?

Governors are volunteers who work together with the head teacher of the school to improve the quality of education in our schools. The governing board works as a team. Individually governors have no powers or responsibility.

Governing is about opening doors to education opportunities. It is challenging and rewarding work.

The main work of the governing board is to meet, discuss and decide. Apart from governing board meetings, which are held at the school, usually in the evening or late afternoon, governors also need to set aside time for reading papers, visiting the school and attending training.

Role of governing boards is to:

  • To ensure clarity of vision, ethos and strategic direction;
  • To hold the head teacher to account for the educational performance of the school and its pupils, and the performance management of staff;
  • To oversee the financial performance of the school and make sure its money is well spent.

Governors also:

  • Support school activities;
  • Visit the school on behalf of the governing board;
  • Promote their school in the community.

What will I get from being a governor?

Most people who become governors find they get a great deal of satisfaction from it. They feel they are making a contribution that has a real effect on the education of local children and young people. They meet a lot of new people and learn new skills which are useful in other aspects of their lives.

What it involves?

Every governing board meets at least once a term. Many also hold a second meeting each term to make sure they can deal with all their business thoroughly. On average, meetings last between 2 and 3 hours. Most governing boards also have committees to deal with important issues such as finance and standards. These meet separately from governing board meetings. It is expected that all governors get involved on at least one committee. Dates of all governing board meetings for an academic year are arranged well in advance and are rarely changed.

Reading the papers
At least a week before the meeting, governors receive an agenda and papers setting out information about the items to be discussed. It is expected that all governors will have read and thought about the issues before the meeting.

Visiting the School
All governors need to get to know their school so they make decisions based on first-hand knowledge. You will probably need to set aside about a half-day a year for a visit.

Who sits on governing boards?

Every school has a governing board, which includes:

  • Parent Governors elected by parents of children at the school;
  • Co-opted Governors appointed by the school governing board for their skills or experience,;
  • Authority Governors nominated by Newham Local Authority and appointed by governing boards for their skills and experience;
  • Staff Governors elected by the school staff and includes the head teacher;
  • Foundation Governors at church schools only, appointed by the Diocese.

The size of the governing board differs and should be minimum seven members. Once on the governing board, all governors have the same powers and responsibilities and they work collectively to support the school.

How do I become a governor?

Parent Governor
As a parent or legal carer, your school will let you know when an election will be held.

Co-opted Governor
Contact the school you are interested in or NPW Governor Services. NPW Governor Services will send you an application pack with a vacancy list. The governing board appoints co-opted governors and we will make sure that your nomination form will be submitted for consideration at their next meeting.

Authority Governor
NPW Governor Services will send you an application form with a vacancy list. The Newham Council expect you to support the principles of raising achievement, inclusive education, equal opportunities and non-selective education. Once your nomination has been made by the Council, the governing board would be asked to accept the nomination before a formal appointment.

Staff Governor
Put your name forward in your school when a vacancy arises and an election is held.

Foundation Governor
Contact the school or Diocese to register your interest, the head teachers of church schools can tell you who to contact.

Governance in academy schools
A number of schools have converted to academies and formed multi-academy trusts. These are groups of schools that work together in a formal partnership. Multi-academy trusts are governed by a Board comprising of Trustees. Most schools in multi-academy trusts have local governing bodies with elected parent and staff governors and a group of appointed governors. Each multi-academy trust has its own rules about how local governing board members are appointed. If you are interested in becoming a governor in an academy, please contact NPW Governor Services and we will let you know how to apply.

How much help will I get?

From School
Your first source of help and advice will be the school. The head teacher may be able to arrange for you to visit the school before your first meeting and put you in touch with an experienced governor who will act as your mentor.

Governor Training
All governors need to do some training, even people who already work in education. NPW is governors training provider to most of the schools. New governors need to learn about their responsibilities, experienced governors need to find about changes in education and all governors need to consider how to make their governing board more effective.
NPW governors training sessions last for two hours. They are run in the morning and evening sessions and the venues is fully accessible.

Governing Boards Support Services
The Governing Boards Support Service provides a comprehensive range of support services to governors, head teachers and clerks. The aim of the service is to enable governors to carry out their legal functions to manage schools in partnership with head teachers. NPW Governor Service helpline 020 8249 6932 provides advice and support on all major issues.

Am I eligible to become a school governor?

Not everyone is eligible to become a school governor, people are disqualified if they have been:

  • Disqualified from working with children by Section 35 of the Criminal Justice and Court Services Act 2000;
  • Sentenced to 3 months or more in prison, without the option of a fine, in the last five years;
  • Sentenced to 2½ years or more in prison in the last 20 years;
  • Sentenced to 5 years or more in prison, at any time;
  • Fined for causing a nuisance or disturbance on school premises in the last 5 years;
  • Other convictions are unlikely to lead to disqualification.
    People are also disqualified if they are:
  • Under 18 years of age;
  • Bankrupt or disqualified under the Company Directors Act 1986 or an;
  • Order made under Section 429(2) of the Insolvency Act 1986;
  • Disqualified as a company director;
  • Disqualified as a charity trustee;
  • Disqualified Proprietor of an independent schoo

How do I apply to become a school governor?

For an application form to become a school governor, please email your request to NPW Governor Service.